Tag Archives: happiness

Thought #51. The sweets of an uphill struggle.

It is not rocket science that the pursuit of happiness is virtually universal. From a tribe of Amazonian Indians to the dwellers of a megacity like Tokyo, each individual has his own idea of what happiness looks like. Sometimes though, we are on the wrong path and do not realise that making subtle changes in our daily life, could considerably improve our chances for success.

Biologically, the release of endorphins, triggered by various human activities, is responsible for euphoric sensations and, moreover, has a protective effect against pain. But, however hard you try to invoke the power of endorphins, it would be ineffective unless you knew what makes you happy.

It is little wonder that trial and error is the most effective method to find out about your source of happiness. Every individual evolves throughout his life and, consequently, what works today may fall by the wayside tomorrow. It seems to be quite probable that, in this pursuit, you are prone to face a neverending struggle.

In my opinion, motivation is the force to be reckoned with. The keenness and willingness to always try and do your best is what makes a difference between the impossible and the feasible. I have a broad range of things that I am eager to know more about: classical music, photography, human behaviour and English are some examples. None of them are second nature to me and yet I have been working hard to improve my skills in those subjects.

I know full well that I would probably never be a professional musician or photographer. However, my personal battle against the odds to learn more about my hobbies, is a continuous source of happiness – only comparable with my happy marriage.

I spent hours and hours in front of my piano, trying to bring musicality out of little childish pieces. I would walk the streets of Castellon, three hours a day, camera and dog alongside, trying to capture the beauty of day-to-day life. I am writing an English blog, on a daily basis, in order to master the basics of communicating thoughts via words. I come into my own when I do my own thing and, despite not knowing the score, I am happy with this uphill struggle.

Thought #49. On folk memory.

I still remember with heartfelt emotion the enticing prospect of a summer’s fortnight at my grandparents’ cottage. They would boast about what they had achieved, not without a great deal of hard work though. Had it not been for their financial ingenuity in hard times, my mother, aunts and uncles would have not been who they are. Mum is the eldest of six children and although she was widowed at the early age of 42, she already had five children.

My grandfather, Fermin, born on July 7th, 1919, fought in the Spanish Civil War on the Republican side. Fortunately, he survived it and became a forest guard on January 26th, 1946. He devoted his life to preserve the mounts of Castellon province, on the eastern coast of Spain. He would worship nature during the rest of his life, only coming into his own when trees and plants were literally surrounding him.

When my father died, we were living in a small suburb of Tarragona. As we did not have family there, my mother took us to Castellon, where her brothers and sisters lived. I was then eight years old and the elder brother of my baby sister. My grandparents lived between two places, their city flat in Castellon and a cottage near a small village that used to be a windmill. It was there, in that country house, where I hold so many treasured memories.

My grandmother, Adelina, was remarkably cheerful and always displayed a strong character. She was a good person, sometimes a little innocent. I would not go so far as to say that her patience hardly ever snapped but, most of the time, her company was extremely pleasant. I would play cards with her  till the small hours by candlelight, and tried to cheat her by using devious tactics. It was at those moments when she would snap fiercely.

Games apart, every summer with them was outstanding. Picking cherries and loquats, collecting apples and pears, watering tomato plants, I passed the time of those long days. We often made marmalade out of any ripe fruit. Food was never thrown away. A famine-stricken youth had taught them the lesson. A lesson inherited, as many others, from generations. Bits and pieces of a folk memory that we must not forget.

To Adelina and Fermin, from his grandson Alberto,  still captivated by your eternal humility, generosity and humanity.

Thought #28. Knocking on heaven’s door.

Is heaven in the sky? Who can say? What we really know is that heaven could be on earth. In fact, I think the reason why life is so exciting lies behind being mortal. It is only by knowing our days are literally numbered that we will do our utmost to live life to the fullest.

Do not try to knock on heaven’s door because no one has as yet ever answered. If you want to achieve happiness, remember that good things come in small packages. Who needs more than a handful of people that really care for them?

In a world of rampant consumerism, it is easy to lose the plot and believe that money brings happiness. Do not allow yourself to live in a fool’s paradise. Fortunately, time has a way of showing us what really matters as some people can be a bit slow on the uptake.

From time to time; occasionally…

Every so often I need
a laugh to stay sane.
Every so often I need
to catch just a plane.

Seldom do I receive
more money than I need.
Luckily, I do perceive
savings run people to seed.

I love living to the fullest,
every so often and more.
I will not bite the bullet,
I would rather hit the dance floor.

A good chat and a hot meal
is everthing that I need.
I would like to issue an appeal
to the public to be agreed.

If it does not make sense,
do not blame me.
I would not take an offence
if you disobey me.

…be true to yourself. Do not let you down.

Thought #21. Identity crisis.

What do people need to forge their own identities? Is there any method (scientific or not) to know if you are on the verge of an identity crisis? These are silly questions, perhaps?

Identity is what makes a person (or a group) different from others. Our world is in dire need of finding common ground, and yet having your own identity might be more necessary than ever. Think about, for example, the political crisis that is facing the UK after the Brexit referendum. Are not the British struggling to understand their role in today’s world?

However, I am far more interested in personal identity crisis. In my opinion, the only way we have to know who we are is by asking ourselves whether we are happy or not. Simple as this question seems, it is easier said than done. In fact, inquiring into yourself is one of the most difficult, repetitive and sometimes Herculean tasks you will ever have to undertake. It is an eternal referendum.

In this referendum there are not winners or losers, though. You can be either or both. It all depends. At the ballot box there will be a single vote: yes, no or so-so. You must not allow abstentions because you have a stake in your well-being.

You will find those who argue that such an existential question is not their cup of tea. I prefer to run the risk rather than to avoid it. The reason why knowing your grade of happiness is worthy lies in the paramount human need to overcome difficulties. Why on earth are you going to improve if you do not know that something is not working?

By looking at your reflection in the mirror while asking “The Question”, you may be able to realise that you have nothing to fear from yourself. Chances are that you will feel ridiculously well after casting your ballot and realising that despite the fairly dismal future, you are more than happy. If it turned out to be the contrary, you would have a golden opportunity to ring the changes on the malfunctioning part of your life.

Last but not least, be yourself. It is all you have.

Thought #8. Childhood.

Since the very instant we arrived at New Delhi’s airport I was overwhelmed with mixed feelings. I was fascinated by the display of hospitality so characteristic of these dwellers but at the same time, I knew I would have run into shocking scenes.

We were going to leave the hotel at the crack of dawn. I am not a morning person but that night I did not sleep a wink and decided to wander around the area. A flood of rickshaws ready to be pulled by skinny riders was the first reminder of how different life must be in India.

Being a child is not the same everywhere. My holiday in India, one of the biggest countries in the world, taught me a lesson. The harsh lifestyle that these human beings have to overcome every minute of their lives is miserable. Living in such conditions could undermine anyone.

Astonishingly enough, I have not seen so many children grinning from ear to ear in my whole life as I did in India. They probably have nothing but zest for life in their struggle to get by.

Later that day, I was pointing the camera through the window during the planned sightseeing in New Delhi when a little boy hidden behind a makeshift mask appeared. I had a split second to trigger the shutter. A red wall, a child, a kite.

Each time I look at this picture I see the kindness of a child that innocently helps me to keep those mixed feelings alive, forever.